Development and human rights

Hussain Shaban
2023 / 10 / 27

In preparation for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Arab Institute for Human Rights and the League of Arab States organized a regional symposium in Cairo, under the title “Enhancing participation and cooperation to enjoy the right to development and guarantee human rights”. It was an occasion to highlight the progress made in this field, regarding achieving the sustainable development goals in close connection with the human rights system.
So, what is the concept of development and what is its philosophy? and how can we guarantee human rights? As much as the two branches seem separate, they are organically interconnected, where the discussion about them expanded after the end of the Cold War, with the assertion that there is no real development without the active participation of civil society and non-governmental sectors, in addition to the private sector.
Development is like an equilateral triangle, which, each side, expresses three dimensions, due to coinciding and interconnectedness and these dimensions are: economic, social, and cultural, thus, the environmental dimension can be added too due to its importance and privacy.
there are two concepts of development: first - the narrow concept, which is the common traditional concept, and what is meant by it “economic growth”´-or-“economic development”, which is reflected in the economic culture, that was established by Adam Smith and Ricardo, all the way to Karl Marx. Second - the broad concept, which is based on the idea of human development in its comprehensive dimensions, and this concept began to be strengthened, especially after the global economic crises, whether the crisis of 1929-1933´-or-the crisis of the 1970s, the mortgage crisis and the collapse of giant banking institutions in 2008 and beyond.
This concept has expanded to include sustainable human development in all its economic, social, cultural, environmental, health, educational, religious, legal, and other aspects, especially by introducing the concept of good governance. The concept of comprehensive and sustainable human development addressed the issue of governance, the degree of representation, accountability, good governance, legitimacy and legality, in addition to participation.
If legitimacy means people’s satisfaction and providing them with a real achievement, then legality is based on the rule of law, which is embodied in constitutional supremacy that includes rational public administration (governance), as stated in sustainable human development reports. Since 1977, the concept of the right to development has been on the agenda of the Commission on Human Rights.
Development means, in short, “the process of expanding the choices of people”, who have an intrinsic right to a decent life, materially and morally, body and soul, and this entails the principle of equality and non-discrimination, as well as freedom, the respect for human dignity and human commonality, and other moral aspects.
Since 1990, the reports of the United Nations Development Program have focused on the concept of quality of life and the importance of the human being in development. Economic growth is not an end, but a means to achieve development, and development does not mean developing human resources, but rather building people’s capabilities to achieve well-being and the transition to human capital.
With the issuance of the “Declaration on the Right to Development” by the United Nations in December 1986, the process of development was considered a human right, and not merely claims of individuals and groups to governments, which may´-or-may not respond to meet these demands “rights”, and once the declaration is approved, subsequent to the sustainable development plans of 2000-2015 and 2020-2030, countries became responsible, before their people for guaranteeing the right to development and human rights, which creates an appropriate ground for concluding an international agreement to affirm the right to development.
The Declaration made the eradication of poverty, the strengthening of human dignity, the realization of human rights, and the provision of equal opportunity, the basis for this. Ironically, the United States opposed the declaration, because it addressed the human rights of peoples, and “Israel” and Britain were absent from the vote.
The Declaration, after a long preamble, consists of 10 articles, which emphasize that development is a human right and a right of peoples. The human being is the main subject of development-;- the right to development requires respect for the principles of the international law, the need to reinforce the development of developing countries, and the link between development and peace, the necessity of achieving equal opportunities and emphasizing the principle of indivisibility of rights, and to formulate, adopt and implement political and legislative measures to apply it.
There is no doubt that the application of these rules requires an incubating cultural and legal environment, and a level of awareness capable of activating aspects of development, especially through the participation of the private sector, in addition to civil society, which can be a force for suggestion, to present draft laws, regulations and principals, through national collective mechanisms, which ultimately leads to a new social contract, that takes into account global developments and changes.
Today’s world is different from yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s world will be completely different, due to the fourth phase of the industrial revolution, though, development goals cannot be achieved without trust and partnership to build critical knowledge, through laws, policies and information exchange, which expands the horizon and makes governments, the private sector, civil society and all actors work towards the same goals in harmony with their rhythms. Because man is the focus of development, and according to the Greek philosopher Protagoras, man is the measure of everything.

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